A cover letter
or covering letter
is a letter
of introduction attached to, or accompanying another document
such as a résumé
or curriculum vitae
frequently send résumés
or employment applications as attachments to a cover letter, by way of introducing themselves to recruiters
or prospective employers
and indicating their interest in the positions. Employers may look for individualized and thoughtfully written cover letters to screen applicants who are not sufficiently interested in their position or who lack the required writing skills.
Cover letters are generally one page at most in length, divided into a header, introduction, body, and closing.
- Header. Cover letters use standard business letter style, with the sender's address and other information, the recipient's contact information, and the date sent after either the sender's or the recipient's address. Following that is an optional reference section (e.g. "RE: Internship Opportunity at Global Corporation") and an optional transmission note (e.g. "Via Email to firstname.lastname@example.org"). The final part of the header is a salutation (e.g., "Dear Hiring Managers").
- Introduction. The introduction briefly states the specific position desired, and is designed to catch the employer's immediate interest.
- Body. The body highlights or amplifies on material in the resume or job application, and explains why the job seeker is interested in the job and would be of value to the employer. Also, matters discussed typically include skills, qualifications, and past experience. If there are any special things to note such as availability date, they may be included as well.
- Closing. A closing sums up the letter, and indicates the next step the applicant expects to take. It may indicate that the applicant intends to contact the employer, although some favor the more indirect approach of simply saying that the applicant will look forward to hearing from or speaking with the employer. After the closing is a valediction ("Sincerely"), and then a signature line. Optionally, the abbreviation "ENCL" may be used to indicate that there are enclosures.
Cover letters may also serve as marketing
devices for prospective job seekers. Cover letters are used in connection with many business documents such as loan applications, contract drafts and proposals, and executed documents. They may serve the purpose of trying to catch the reader's interest or persuade the reader of something, or they may simply be an inventory or summary of the documents included along with a discussion of the expected future actions the sender or recipient will take in connection with the documents.